Bread on the waters (it brings out the fish)

‘See I’m more important than you!’ squalled the twitterati. “I’ve got more twitter followers AND more facebook likes. I’ve totally smoked you etc etc… to summarize the pursuit of irrelevance that Larry Correia blogged about here.

She was rating herself for the above reason as THE authority who should be able to tell this badthink man to listen to her little minion, who relentlessly kept up the usual garboil about how mean Larry was, and how he didn’t ought to badthink because that was evul. Evul along with, you know, guns and thinking human gender was binary. (and there I thought it was male or female. But then I guess I also think there are 10 kinds of people, those who understand what binary usually means and those who don’t).

I’ve always been confused by the non-logic of this sort of thing. If said person/s (and there are many of them) are really evul uncontrollable monsters because guns and badthink, then, well, why don’t they just shoot you and any other folk who pester them or dare disagree? It’s kind of like the feminasty clarion-call that ‘all men are oppressive monsters who would rape us and have us barefoot, pregnant and the kitchen’. Get real. Men are, on average, bigger, faster just as intelligent (on the mean), and have a broader bell curve of with extremes of intelligence and stupidity around that mean, are more prone to physical violence, and more capable at it, than women. Guns if anything help a little to equalize things, but men tend to better and more familiar with those too. If all men were what these feminists claim they are, then all women would be raped, barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen. As they’re not, I guess that one is merely ‘95% consensus’ –ie. Bull.

Still, the form of logic (which comes under the same umbrella as ‘If I buy Kippers it will not rain’ level of brilliant thought) that led the silly woman to conclude that because she had more twitter followers or facebook likes she was vastly important, and hadn’t even written a novel or translated. (Don’t ask. Logic, common sense, and quite probably sanity had left long before, on the last train for the coast) than Larry, she could tell him what to do and think. And then her friendies, having drunk the cool-aid were indignant that he could pick on her and show her how irrelevant she really was. It was just evul nasty badthink. See: her putting him down was good, and him putting her down was bad, because badthink, and probably guns too.

I’m too old for this drivel –i.e. I have a mental age of over 4 and will have to wait for a second childhood to be able to cope with it, and have my intellect to decline to under senile Labrador retriever to get it. But it did resonate with an interesting conversation I’d had with my young French cousin – a bright guy from a very different background. We were talking about the value of fans, conferences, twitter, facebook etc. And he came out at monetary value for Apple fans, and I found another for facebook followers.

Now, what’s the difference between a solitary guy (a) (like me, who will happily take on the sea (which you ought to know is a large vastly powerful entity, can kill effortlessly rather like a hippopotamus, but far far far bigger and more powerful and dangerous. You don’t play with hippos but somehow the sea is just fine, until it kills you) but battles to deal with crowds or large group socializing (I am a little deaf — diving and explosions I guess, and I have a personal space of about three yards, unless I am sleeping with you. Which counts all of you but the wife and cats out.)), (b) a person who hates the outdoors, and hates crowds and is introverted and likes to read, and (c) a cheerful extrovert who loves to talk to all her/his friends, all the time if possible? The answer, if all of them are writers, is that at present, (c) will probably enjoy the most financial success. (b) will write most books, and will write for the group who read most books, and (a) will catch fish. In reality (c) may have more skill in communication than the other two, but their free time to write is small (unless they write well, and fast). So it’s (b) for the logical win, but (c ) for the actual, and (a) to catch fish… so why?

Well, the fish part is easy because it’s all they’re any good at or for, and the other part has to come down to communication and actually letting people know the book exists. Which these days comes down to fan base, which in history meant publishing short stories, going to cons, and your publisher doing the publicity (and then (b) used to win) and now comes down to social media (There is a special piece of financial logic that says publicity is what publishers arrange when you don’t need it). Blogging, twitter, facebook, and next week something new – which, as it’s over to the author to do the work, mostly, favors (c). While authors take part in social media (and indeed editors do too, where oddly they always have time to respond immediately about trivial PC issues, even when they can’t deal with a book query in 18 months) it really is like using a brain surgeon for your plumbing job. He might be really good at it, or not, but it has the brain surgery queue getting longer.

Of course on average – there are always exceptions – (b) still produce better books for the audience and (a) more fish, usually for themselves. But publishers look at social media figures in making their purchasing decisions, and independents too do better because of them. Which means a whole lot of (b) and even some (a) who write are doing their best to do something they don’t do well or naturally.

Social media doesn’t usually work well for them (me) but even having the brain surgeon at your pipes is better than having the toilet overflow and drip through the roof onto the computer. And while rampaging herds of super-intelligent toilets are now ravaging the internet*, it hasn’t made me vast sales, but has made me some good solid friends and a fan. Oh, sorry fans. Both of them.

Seriously, those are very valuable people, and a vast hole in in the way data is used. You see we live – particularly publishers — in the age of the interchangeable widget. It’s all about the number of followers, as if these were all the same thing. There is a value in any kind of ‘follower’ – but they really are not all alike.

Take the twitterati who was arguing with Larry (please! Can we pay you?). She may tell her entire twitter and facebook following she has finally written the novel, and perhaps 1:100 will buy it. Maybe she’s sort of average readable, and her 20 000 followers add up to a respectable 200 sales. Given that she writes a book a year, her followers are worth at say 2.50 dollars a HC book – $500 a year, or about 2.5 cents a follower per year, and they’re often once off. I’m not knocking it, it’s better money than the guy with the fish. 1:50 is about my average response, and I don’t have 1K followers, but at least I can still eat fish. Larry Correia on the other hand (I’m making this up, didn’t bother to look) has say only 10 000 followers. However… Every last one of them will buy everything he writes and tell an average of least 3 friends. Say he also only writes one book – Each follower is worth $10 per year, and they’re yours, every year, or, conservatively, in financial terms, worth 400 times a year and probably 10 000 times a lifetime (hers are less likely return customers), what the Twitterati’s follower is – which was sort of what he was proving. However I still have fish. Hey Larry, you want to buy a nice fish? Or I can take you to shoot or catch them, which might not make me any money, but I’d enjoy it.

So the key here is reaching not numbers, but quality (and that, from the writers POV varies a lot, there’s the guy who will never sell many copies to his friends, because he doesn’t have a lot – but will provide you with priceless information about explosives, or fencing, and the other fellow who has 200 000 ardent true fans of his own, who is worth, financially, the rest of your list) and numbers – first you have to get that 1:100, but then keep them. Which means two things in turn, that even fishermen can offer – long-term relationships (which means regular and reliable) with readers/followers, and content that amuses/appeals to them. And that’s sort of my goal, barring luck and internet meme that makes me famous overnight (then I still have to keep those followers – which is easier if you have lots of content, and it is quite entertaining). So… yep if you want to follow me, davefreersf on Twitter, if you want a free sample. I believe there is a facebook page too, I’m not very good at this stuff, it does not swim, and last time I speared a computer it was ugly and not very tasty. I promise to very, very rarely tell you have a new book out, and occasionally say sarcastic things about just about everything, especially myself. And sometimes about fish.

Which is why I better go eat the fish, because it is getting kinda elderly now. You’re invited if you get here in time.IMG_1213

*AKA trolls, if you always wondered where they were spawned. They’re super-intelligent for toilets, not monkeys or human beings


  1. A few more fans than that I think. I read Heirs of Alexandria on the strength of your name on the cover, despite not caring for your co-authors

    1. Sanford, my trouble is most of my serious fans end up as friends, and while I am sure that some of them promote the hell out of my work, I regard them as friends, rather than numbers, or just ‘fans’. It’s probably shit business strategy, but it’s me and I can always eat fish 🙂

      1. Unless you’re investing time in the relationships that you should be investing in writing, it seems a good business strategy. Most brands can’t get that kind of mindshare.

        I admit I don’t promote the hell out of your work, but I do mention it when relevant. I can’t do more than that without alienating my friends. BTW, speaking of hell, I’d love to read a book by you about demonology. You dealt with it a little bit in Save the Dragons, and a bit more in Dragon’s Ring – but I’m thinking about demons closer to the Christian version.

        I’m sure you’ll treat them as respectfully as C. S. Lewis did.

        1. Oddly, I deal with the subject in the current Heirs book. The line between ‘demon’ and ‘god’ is a thin one, in some cultures. Ori, compared to me, you promote my work more than I do. And there is no point in losing friends and not influencing people…

      2. I think considering them, and treating them as, friends is probably a good business strategy. I’ll go further to push one of my friends than I will and author whose books I like but whose personality leaves me less enthusiastic.

  2. Y’a know, one advantage of using the brain surgeon as a plumber, while he’s doing a bad job on the pipes, he’s not screwing up anyone’s brains. Which suggests a good reason for having some editors busily employed in social networks, thinking about it. 😉

    1. Now THAT is gifted insight. Very true. The problem arises when your book is sitting in limbo with one of said editors (and they do want ‘No simultaneous submissions’ and ‘exclusive rights’ to your book/story. I’ve come across horror stories of authors being accepted and editors demanding exclusivity… and taking five years to bring the book out, most of that spent incommunicado.)

  3. In the exchange with the gal on twitter, who really won? Everyone of Larry’s fans were already Larry’s readers; but, she stated she hadn’t written a book. Therefore, he was able to push all of his books on her page. Out of the so called 50K of her friends (readers), some are going to be curious enough to see what this guy was bragging about. My guess is that he will sell at least five hundred of one book sales to her people. Some MHI, some Hard Magic. This will lead to at least another hundred fans for Larry. That’s why L.K. Hamilton (I think that was the name of the female author) jumped in to support the twitterer. Anything to get your name out front. She too was not dumb and will rope in some new fans. The Twitterer will be happy that she did her fifteen minutes fame so everyone wins. Marketing is weird but fun for self promoters. I only wish I could do it.

    1. I’d gathered, from Larry’s recounting, that Hamilton was supporting Larry.

      1. Looks like I was hasty in posting. The literal meaning of what I read does not explicitly say what I read into it. Mea culpa.

        1. Actually, it’s hard to say where Hamilton stood. I only scanned the twitterer’s site partially. She had (maybe it’s Twitter- I don’t use it) a sentence of her’s and a button called ‘conversation’ I think. I opened it to a two word comment by Hamilton and I closed it, went back to Larry’s page. I assumed it was between the two, but, it could have been in support of either one to my knowledge. But I recognized the old actor’s comment about news releases “Just as long as they spell your name right.” Larry’s smart, and knows what he’s doing in this stuff. Maybe I gave Hamilton more credit for business sense than warranted too.

    2. All attention is good in marketing. But actually not all attention is equal – which is something not everyone in marketing has got their head around.

  4. Hi Dave. The pic is interesting. first thought that popped into my head was “Dude that’s no fish! That’s a giant ANT!. What the heck is Dave trying to do? Bring out the Antocalypse ala the classic movie THEM?”

    1. (chuckle) – divided by a common language – they’re called ‘fish’ short for crayfish, correctly speaking a Southern Rock Lobster, also called a spiny lobster. We have ‘giant’ ants here – called ‘inchmen’ but they have a toxic bite and taste of formic acid

  5. I’ve never quite gotten the point of twitter or twitter followers. It seems to me that all the celebrities (and the White House) manage come to people’s attention when they do stupid.

    I spend a certain amount (ie., way to much) time on blogs and I can’t imagine why I’d sign up for anyone’s twitter feeds, much less add myself to thousands. Google + is bad enough and I ignore Facebook entirely.

    I don’t think my antipathy for the idea is due to old fuddy-duddy-ness. I really don’t.

    1. 🙂 I can’t see where the time to write comes in,if you are fully engaged in this, myself. But there are people who love to tell everyone about their visit to the gym or bowel movements. There must even be people who love to read it ;-/

  6. I don’t read twitter, even for authors I like.
    There is only enough room per tweet for snark or the usual brain fart.
    I only seem to hear about twitter after some fight over . . . nothing much of interest.
    Keep writing things that I like and I’ll keep shoveling money your way.

    1. Yes, I have a need for a very focused mind when writing, and a constant twitting in my ears would drive me demented. So I only look at morning and evening. If you happen to be on then, well, I read it, and may react. That’s kind of what I meant by people who can do social media AND work – mystery to me. I shall do my best to continue writing…

    1. I must do more… 🙂 Seriously the list of nearly finished projects is growing – sometime this year I just going to be finishing stuff. really. Promise. But then I need to tell people.

      1. Kris Rusch had a lovely post (even if I don’t quite agree with all of it) on market segmentation:

        Social media works best in two ways: one is to remind the infrequent readers that you a.) exist, and b.) have a new book out. In case of a.), remembering your name makes it more likely they’ll recommend your books, as you’re in their recent memory already when a topic like “hard-boiled detectives” or “loyal dogs” comes up. In case of b.), it’ll work to get the people who like your work well enough to buy it when they think of it, or the people who’ve heard of you a few times (see “a.)”) to pick your book out of the pile when they’re looking for something new, as well as notifying those that’ll buy it as soon as they realize you have a new work out, but won’t actively look for it. So there is some value to it, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours a day on it, either.

        The current crop of indie authors on some message boards are pushing the newsletter/mailing list concept, as it’ll get the message out to people who liked your stuff enough to sign up for more – much more valuable than random twitter followers. On the other hand, it only goes out to those people, and therefore isn’t a good tool for attracting new fans and readers.

        Eh, feed yourself on large tasty fish, and write. The more you have out indie, the more bread you’ve cast on the waters for attracting readers, and the more hooks you have for their wallets.

  7. “(I am a little deaf — diving and explosions I guess, and I have a personal space of about three yards, unless I am sleeping with you. Which counts all of you but the wife and cats out.)”

    …are you sure you’re not one of my Calmer Half’s pen names? Or, is this a common feature of South African immigrant gents of a certain age?

    Wait, that’s what you meant when you said “fish”? okay, I learned something new today!

    1. Well, if it lives in the water, it gets called a fish by some of us ;-). Abalone, lobster, and sharks, and what everyone else calls ‘fish’ “Did you get many fish today. Abalone take it to a new level of Oz, as they’re called muttonfish. It’s an Australianism, or maybe Tasmanianism, or maybe just FlindersIslandism Back in SA the spiny lobster were called bugs, which confused Ameriacans and Australians even more.

      1. Crayfish/crawdads/mudbugs are a staple in the southern US. So ‘bugs’ isn’t quite as foreign a name.

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